After group discussion, we chose to push on an extra hour and a half all the way down to Namche Bazaar today, to make up the day lost in Kathmandu airport and ensure we could do all three of our volunteer days with the Himalayan Climate Initiative in Bhaktapur.
The result was that we walked for over 8 hours today – leaving Pheriche around 7.45am and finally walking into Namche Bazaar just after 5 in the evening. It is an enormous stretch on the map – Tirthe said perhaps 18 kms as the crow flies – but this doesn’t take into account the extent of climbing and descending, which add a different layer of tiredness.
I’m quietly amazed at how happy and well I’ve felt while we’ve been trekking, now that my walking legs are under me again and I’m slowly coming back to life in these acheingly beautiful surroundings.
The sheer diversity of landscapes, vistas, vegetation and good company made the trek a joy, and the day passed quickly. Back below the treeline again.
We followed the Dudh Koshi down past its junction with Imja Khola below Dingboche, this time following along the northen riverbank through Shomare to Panboche, a large settlement with its Gompa. With the broken bridge now replaced, we dropped down to the river past a big Chorten and crossed over on the newly constructed stone, wood and plywood bridge.
It must have been an enormous effort to not only rebuild a bridge but to carve a new yak- and porter-worthy track down to the river and back up to the old path in only 5 days. The twisted metal remains of the old suspension bridge were of substantial steel; frightening evidence of just how powerful landslides can be in this unstable terrain.
Another long steep climb back up to Tengboche Gompa in the mist, followed by a long traverse through rhododendron and birch forest. I caught sight pines being grown in a forest nursery, which Tirtha said was set up by a Canadian NGO working in tandem with the Hillary Trust. The steep hillsides below us had clearly been planted out, with many young trees all the same age.
After a long descent we ate lunch at the river crossing at Phungi Tanga, where water-driven prayer wheels send up their blessings beside an army check point. Climbing up from the river, looking back to where we had come, a tiny path was visible snaking its way down the long ridge we’d descended.
Delightful to watch a male Danphe Pheasant flash his blue sheen as he flew across a small valley below us. It took us another few hours to reach Namche Bazaar, traversing along a high path way above the river and it waterfalls.
Now to bed.
(Editor’s note: If you’ve missed the background to the Climb It for Climate campaign, there’s a great story of its remarkable genesis on the Australian Youth Climate Coalition website. Part of the purpose is to raise funds for AYCC and Nepalese activism on climate justice. You can support Philippa’s fundraising here.)